Adrift

When Shailene Woodley’s character Tami ties a rope to herself to swim out to try and save her boyfriend, I was immediately playing the Jaws theme in my head. Perhaps that’s because the movie 47 Meters Down was still in my brain. But no…not a single shark makes an appearance here, although a trick that was used to frustrate everyone at the end of 47 Meters Down, makes an appearance here (I can’t explain more without ruining that horrible red herring).

I’m not the biggest fan of director Baltasar Kormakur. His Contraband (Mark Wahlberg) was good for one of those types of films, but he gave us the disappointing 2 Guns, The Deep, and Everest. I did love his last movie The Oath, so I was hopeful with this. And Woodley always impresses me on screen (and I’m not saying that with this movie because she kept wearing tight or wet T-shirts). I thought she was so terrific as the rebellious daughter of George Clooney in The Descendants. She was decent in The Fault in Our Stars, even if that was written for teens. And in a lot of ways, this movie felt like it was written for teens. It’s like the screenwriter realized how boring Robert Redford’s shipwreck movie All is Lost was, and thought they’d bring in the type of romance that had Titanic sail to the top of the box office.

Tom Hanks had a volleyball to talk to in Cast Away. In this, Tami has a guitar. The hunk that played the guitar has a nice accent, so that should help. He’s played by Sam Clafin, who made the teenage girls swoon in Me Before You.

Since this is a true story, it’s a safe bet that you already knew Tami (a former San Diegan) would survive. The problem lies in the fact that at this point, we’ve just seen so many of these movies, it’s not that interesting anymore. That doesn’t mean the 1983 memoir this is based on isn’t a good read. It’s probably an intense story Tami Oldman has to tell. It’s just…even as good as the special effects are, or the great widescreen images and open-sea shots cinematographer Robert Richardson gives us…we’ve all seen this story. And they don’t set the box office on fire,  so it’s perplexing as to why they keep making them.

The story is told in flashbacks, and we see Tami is a free spirit that travels, works a bit, travels some more. She’s dropped her anchor in Tahiti, cleaning boats, when she meets Richard. They have a rather boring dinner date, which consists of him speaking with an accent, and her giggling like a teenager with a crush.

Woodley has the perfect look once the boat is adrift, with chapped lips and messed up hair. Other times though, she doesn’t seem very convincing. She’s the producer of the film, and rumor has it Miles Teller was originally attached to the project. That wouldn’t have really changed things, as the problem doesn’t lie with Clafin’s character.

Aside from some beautifully shot scenes in Fiji, there’s just not a lot here to recommend.

And as I expected, there’s a barf scene. That makes sense when a boat is out to sea and there’s rough waters; but my wife and I have been discussing how almost every movie we see now has a vomit scene. In most movies, it’s after hard drinking. Sometimes it’s a person going through chemo; other times, it’s after a detective sees something gruesome. Let’s give the barf a rest for a few years.

1 ½ stars out of 5.